Over the years, enough has been written about the fact that betting on favourites is not profitable, even if they do win roughly 30 per cent of races.

Sadly, they don’t pay enough to cover your outlay, let alone show a profit. Sure, there may be days when this is not the case, but those days are few and far between.

Another way of looking at that 30 per cent strike rate is this – favourites lose 70 per cent of races. (Those must be the races when I bet on the favourites.) I decided to see if I could tip the scales in my favour using a few filtering factors. The first one I tried was that the favourite had to be paying over \$2.

The result was a lot fewer bets, but also a lot fewer wins. Okay then, what if the favourite paid less than \$2? The number of wins increased but the returns dwindled. It seemed that no matter what dividend I chose as a starting point, the result was not profitable. This appeared to support the theory that favourites are not profitable.

I must have been born with a perverse disregard of what experts’ say because I kept hammering away at the favourites until a chink of light appeared.

I played around with a few ideas coupled with favourites and came up with a profitable system. While it is not strictly betting on the favourite, it comes pretty close.

This system entails betting to win on three horses in a race.  The average outlay will be around \$10 per race – give or take – but you should finish up with a strike rate in excess of 80 per cent. I suggest you try it on paper for a few races until you get the idea firmly fixed in your mind and can do the sums quickly.

At about one minute before the race starts, jot down the dividends of the first three favourites. Let’s say they are \$3.20, \$4.00 and \$5.10. Now disregard the cents and deduct \$1 from each dividend. These dividends will now be – \$2, \$3 and \$4. Adding these figures together gives us \$9. Now divide this total by each of the new dividends. This will result in \$4, \$3 and \$2 ignoring the cents once again.

These will be the amounts of the bets – \$4 on the favourite, \$3 on the second favourite and \$2 on the third. The reason for deducting a dollar from each of the original dividends is because in the final minute before the race gets under way, one or more of them could drop.

If the favourite wins and pays \$3.20 with \$4 on it, the return would be \$12.80 resulting in a profit of \$3.20. If the second favourite wins at \$4.00, with \$3 on it the return will be \$12 for a profit of \$3.00. Finally, if the third favourite wins and pays \$5.10, the return would be \$10.20 for a profit of \$1.20. If, on the other hand, none of them wins, you’ll be down the gurgler by \$9.00.

Just looking at Saturdays since the start of this season on August 1, 2007 up to November 3, the following tracks have been successful. Ascot has had six races where the favourite was paying \$3 or more and only one of them missed. The strike rate was 83 per cent with a profit of \$9.50 and a POT of 18 per cent.

Cairns had 100 per cent strike rate with six out of six and a profit of \$19.50 and 38 per cent. Grafton only had one race for a win and a profit of \$2.50 and 31 per cent. Newcastle with a 75 per cent strike rate showed a profit of \$4.60 and 12 per cent. Traralgon had two races both of which won and returned a profit of \$7.60 and 42 per cent.

Over to New Zealand now and Trentham had six races with five hits for a strike rate of 83 per cent, a profit of \$13.90 and a POT of 27 per cent. And finally, Yarra Valley, with four wins from five bets, gave a strike rate of 80 per cent, a profit of \$3.70 and a POT of only 9 per cent.

The total strike rate was 87 per cent with 26 wins from 30 races and the total profit was \$61.30 for a POT of 23 per cent. The four losing races cost \$10, \$10, \$8 and \$9. The total outlay for the season to November 3 was \$262. These results aren’t too bad for betting on three horses in a race and while it’s betting on the favourite each time, it also has the added safety net of the second and third favourites as well.

If you can manage to be alert enough and can do the sums in the time required before the race starts, you should do well with this system. Good luck.

By Mr Money

PRACTICAL PUNTING MONTHLY – JANUARY 2008